Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Age of Youth" episode 4 recap

The Friday episode of "Age of Youth" revealed the untidy side of Kang I-na (Ryu Hwa-young)'s private life. Kang I-na had been seeing rich men to make her allowance money.
I-na is a glamourous woman with slender body and a gorgeous face that appear to be attractive to many men. She herself was aware of this. I-na dated men taking advantage of her attractive appearance.
Her friends started gossiping about I-na's behaviours. When I-na was walking into the room, Jeong Ye-eun (Han Seung-yeon) did not notice she was there and gushed, "What is prostitution? Having sex for money, that makes someone a prostitute".
Although I-na heard Ye-eun gossiping about her, she pretended she heard nothing. But she got saddened with her own thoughts mumbling, "I'm a prostitute, I guess. I know it for sure but it makes me feel sad when I hear it from someone else".
Her friends started suspecting I-na's identity.
Source : www.tvreport.co.kr/?c...
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"Age of Youth" episode 4 recap

The Friday episode of "Age of Youth" revealed the untidy side of Kang I-na (Ryu Hwa-young)'s private life. Kang I-na had been seeing rich men to make her allowance money.
I-na is a glamourous woman with slender body and a gorgeous face that appear to be attractive to many men. She herself was aware of this. I-na dated men taking advantage of her attractive appearance.
Her friends started gossiping about I-na's behaviours. When I-na was walking into the room, Jeong Ye-eun (Han Seung-yeon) did not notice she was there and gushed, "What is prostitution? Having sex for money, that makes someone a prostitute".
Although I-na heard Ye-eun gossiping about her, she pretended she heard nothing. But she got saddened with her own thoughts mumbling, "I'm a prostitute, I guess. I know it for sure but it makes me feel sad when I hear it from someone else".
Her friends started suspecting I-na's identity.
Source : www.tvreport.co.kr/?c...
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Doctors" rated 19.2% on the 25th July

SBS "Doctors" came in first again.
According to Nielsen Korea, SBS drama "Doctors" rated 19.2% on the 25th.
KBS 2TV drama "Beautiful Mind" came in second with 3.4% and MBC drama "Monster - 2016" rated 10.7%.
"Doctors" has been in the lead for a consistent amount of time since its release.
Source : www.tvreport.co.kr/?c...
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"Doctors" Episode 11 recap

In-joo (played by Yoo Da-in) is Ji-hong's old friend, who can typically be relied on to show up when he's in trouble to offer herself as a marriage partner, since that solves problems for some reason. In-joo has not generally been a very relevant character, which is why I haven't discussed her up until now, but she does serve a very important role this episode. In-joo consistently acts like a doctor first and a cool person second, which in contrast to the rest of the cast, is the important priority order.
And there is indeed plenty of doctoring this episode, as the Hye-jeong/Ji-hong loveline takes a backseat. The official reason for this being that Hye-jeong is pulling back, although Ji-hong really does have the better excuse considering what's going on with his father. All right, all right, adoptive father, although is the difference really all that important? Ji-hong loves the guy like he's his dad, and that much is quite sweet and heartwarming.
For Hye-jeong, the main highlight was the look we got of her room. Superhero plush dolls? Really? That's normally shorthand for nerdiness, and Hye-jeong does not even remotely strike me as being a nerdy woman. The Moomim was a nice touch, though, because the general trajectory of Moomin stories is somewhat similar to "Doctors"- emphasis on feelings and mild adventure, philosophy being a side effect rather than an intended outcome. Also there's a character who bites people because she likes it.
Speaking of which, how's Seo-woo doing? Getting told off as usual, I'm afraid. Seo-woo really is not a very good villain. Any time she gets a verbal whacking from a main character, the exchange always comes off as mutually antagonistic. Even if the things they're saying about Seo-woo are true, they always do so in such a mean way that they come off just as bad. The main exception to this is Yeong-gook (played by Baek Seong-hyeon), because his advice is constructive and tends to incorporate objective facts rather than subjective opinions.
Yeong-gook is actually a legitimately good character who I'd like to see more of, since his relationship with Seo-woo is difficult to quantify and is subsequently mildly intriguing. Compare that to Yoon-do, who spends the whole episode sulking because Hye-jeong turned him down. I mean, sheesh, the guy really doesn't have anything better to do in his spare time? Study a textbook or something, guy, you are a doctor.
Review by William Schwartz
"Doctors" is directed by Oh Choong-hwan, written by Ha Myeong-hee and features Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Yoon Gyoon-sang, Lee Seong-kyeong, Kim Yeong-ae and Jeong Hae-gyoon.
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"Bring It On, Ghost" Episode 5 recap

The latest dynamic plot development is that apparently ghosts can sleep. Beyond that, Bong-pal and Hyeon-ji spend most of the episode hanging out as if they were the lead characters in a romantic comedy. Eventually Cheon-sang and Im-rang are able to locate a ghost for the requisite ghost fight. Myeong-cheol provides vague hints of an interesting backstory without actually saying anything useful. Hye-seong is probably the villain but apparently he can't even see ghosts so who knows why he's even in the story at all.
"Bring It On, Ghost" has settled into a very formulaic pattern. I'm convinced at this point that while writer Lee Dae-il-I properly gave "Bring It On, Ghost" a proper storyboard, it was not a sufficiently complicated storyboard which is why each episode is simply a restatement of the previous one with a slightly different ghost and the lowest level of plot progression possible. That's why we know so little about the backstory- it's the only real surprise the production team has, and it's too early for them to reveal surprises.
That much is just speculation but there simply isn't that much to discuss because the presentation it "Bring It On, Ghost" is hopelessly flawed. Once the ghost is dispatched, then and only then do we find out that Bong-pal had an indirect emotional connection to the case. The epilogue would have been much, much more effective if there was ever any indication of Bong-pal's emotional state beyond these fragmented flashbacks.
The main excuse for this is that more screentime is necessary for cute romantic chemistry between Taecyeon and Kim So-hyeon-I. As good as that chemistry is, at this point I'm getting a little tired of it simply due to the overexposure. Cheon-sang and Im-rang's comedic antics come off as more fresh simply because it involves more actual new material. Like the van. That is a good ghost-busting van.
A pity the ghost-busting isn't up to snuff. The ghost fight was pretty weak compared to past ones, which really typifies one of the big worries I have with "Bring It On, Ghost"- that this is a drama with a very excellent central idea and the perfect cast to pull it off, but the production team doesn't have enough interesting ideas to make it work consistently. I do hope I'm wrong about this. While "Bring It On, Ghost" isn't aggressively bad or anything so far it's definitely not living up to its potential.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bring It On, Ghost" is directed by Park Joon-hwa, written by Lee Dae-il-I and features Taecyeon, Kim So-hyeon-I, Kwon Yul, Kim Sang-ho, Kang Ki-yeong and Lee David.
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Monday, July 25, 2016

"Five Children" rated 32.1%

"Five Children" set a record.
According to Nielsen Korea, the KBS 2TV drama "Five Children" rated 32.1%.
"Five Children" has been in the 30s after the fortieth episode and even dropped to 27.8% on the forty-fifth episode. However, it kicked back up and set a record.
Meanwhile, MBC "Happy Home" and MBC "The Flower in Prison" rated 18.9% and 19.8% respectively.
Source : star.mk.co.kr/new/vie...
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"The Good Wife" Episode 6 recap

A new case opens in "The Good Wife" and it tackles euthanasia and abortion at the same time, which give the series a bigger load than it can ultimately handle. Dan enters the game between Sang-il and Tae-joon while Hye-kyeong and Joong-won are busy with the case. Jae-moon makes a return and his condition is worsening, causing conflict with Joong-won over the past. His fragile emotional state leads to a mistake involving Hye-kyeong.
The legal case in episode six is more complicated than previous ones. On the euthanasia front, things are simple. The patient wanted to die and has a right to. The reason it gets complicated is because the woman is pregnant. It is a cruelly impossible case. The mother signed her death wishes before being with child and she is unable to consent to an abortion at this time. It is as solid an argument for the pro-choice side as it is for the pro-life one.
The patient and her husbandSoo-hyeon and her client
Unfortunately the series opts for emotional manipulation and overused concepts to pick its side, rather than handling the very valid arguments on both ends and focusing on the humanity of them. The opposition is painted as almost cartoonish in their cruelty and the family on its side comes complete with inheritance drama. By turning the case into a circus for dramatic effect, the drama ends up belittling the very real gravity, moral dilemma and pain such a situation causes to everyone involved.
The main story progresses more smoothly and the time has come for the ever so mysterious Dan (Nana) to make difficult choices. I cannot tell whether her character has been underacted or underwritten until now, but I am hoping we will get to know her better now. She clearly respects Hye-kyeong (Jeon Do-yeon), but she is also manipulative and secretive. Given both Sang-il (Kim Tae-woo) and Tae-joon (Yoo Ji-tae) seem like horrible people, perhaps she has good reason to hide her intentions.
Hye-kyeong and DanHye-kyeong and Tae-joon
The episode also explores Joong-won (Yoon Kye-sang) and his relationship with his father. The interactions are great and the pain is clearly big for both men. The legal case serves as atonement for Joong-won and as bad as it is for him to use clients for this, it does give him an opportunity to see them as people again. His fragile state is what leads to the kiss, but Hye-kyeong's reaction is more interesting.
Hye-kyeong is no longer tolerating Tae-joon's lies and she admits that her tolerance was simply an effort to love him. Seeing her development here makes me worry less about the love triangle, because she is still in control. While the episode bites off more than it can chew with its court battle, it does provide food for thought and I therefore still consider it a good one.
"The Good Wife" is directed by Lee Jeong-hyo, written by Han Sang-woon and features Jeon Do-yeon, Yoo Ji-tae, Yoon Kye-sang and Kim Seo-hyeong.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

"Uncontrollably Fond" rated 11.1%

"Uncontrollably Fond" came in first.
According to Nielsen Korea, the KBS 2TV drama "Uncontrollably Fond" rated 11.1%.
This is 1.8% lower than the previous episode but it is still in the lead compared to "W" and "Wanted".
Meanwhile, MBC "W" rated 9.5% and SBS "Wanted" 6.5%.
Source : star.mbn.co.kr/view.p...
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"The Good Wife" Episode 5 recap

"The Good Wife" smacks us with a big twist in episode five, which changes a great deal about what we have known so far. It personally worries me in regards to the future, but perhaps it will be a good thing. The legal case this time involves Hye-kyeong's past social circle and with Tae-joon home, it just brings more sad memories to the surface. Meanwhile, Joong-won steps up his game and faces Tae-joon.
This is one huge elephant in the room, so let us address it. Tae-joon (Yoo Ji-tae) is a coward who had his wife carry his crime. I had previously assumed that his entitlement and controlling behavior stems from a sense of being owed something for his heroism, but he manages to be even worse. In retrospect, I should have expected this, but Hye-kyeong (Jeon Do-yeon) as a culprit was an appealing concept. Which is why this twist worries me, so bear with me here.
Tae-joon asking Hye-kyeong to take the blameHye-kyeong and her old friends
Let us forget about the twist for a moment. The court case of this episode gives us a glimpse into how Hye-kyeong lived and how she was abandoned after her husband's scandal. It shows us a woman who is honest and kind, but also blind to the hypocrisy of others. This would explain why she cannot see Tae-joon for who he is. Seeing her struggle between happiness and awkwardness with him home again is wonderfully done. My worry is that this focus might change.
Until now Hye-kyeong has been someone who might give a second chance to her once beloved savior and lover. It was an interesting struggle and the choice was reasonably hard. This twist turns her into a victim who has repeatedly accepted betrayal. It changes her from a person in control to someone who is being willfully manipulated. This is not a bad change. Seeing her rise from her self-victimization would be an empowering story. I just wonder if this is the reason behind it.
Joong-won semi-confessing to Hye-kyeongHye-kyeong cutting her ties to those who abandond her
This episode has Joong-won (Yoon Kye-sang) face Tae-joon and start an unofficial war for Hye-kyeong. One man is someone who forces his biased treatment on Hye-kyeong to satisfy his crush, which ended on the day of the accident. The other is a traitor who has no concept of the impact his actions have on his family. My fear is that Hye-kyeong might have been turned into a victim for the sake of a twisted love triangle.
Everything depends on the creators' intentions. The car accident twist can be a great addition to the story of a woman who reclaims the life she sacrificed for love not reciprocated. I sincerely hope that my worry will prove silly by the end. I hope that the love Dramaland has for male power games and scandalous romances will not overtake the main appeal of "The Good Wife".
"The Good Wife" is directed by Lee Jeong-hyo, written by Han Sang-woon and features Jeon Do-yeon, Yoo Ji-tae, Yoon Kye-sang and Kim Seo-hyeong.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"Wanted" Episode 10 recap

The body count surrounding "Wanted" is rapidly increasing as the show and authorities close in on the ones responsible for the deaths seven years ago. Lee  Ji-eun seems to be a key person and the team tries to get as much out of her as possible before the show. Meanwhile, Dong-wook reveals his twisted motive for joining the production. The search for the kidnapper continues, but a crisis occurs when what seems to be a secret mission is initiated.
Hye-in's (Kim Ah-joong) "Wanted" might as well be providing free body bags to whoever gets involved, because they sure are racking up the corpses. Ha Dong-min's (Son Jong-hak) death is pretty straightforward; he is killed to be silenced. It is Ji-eun's (Shim Eun-woo) mother I find curious. Was she spying on her daughter on behalf of whoever wants her father's information? Conglomerates are Dramaland's favorite villain and SG Group certainly fits the bill, but I still hope for a surprise.
Mi-ok and Joon-gooDong-wook revealing his motive to Woo-sin
Finding Hyeon-woo's (Park Min-soo) kidnapper can solve both cases and "Wanted" thankfully defies Dramaland norm by having a few capable investigators. Mi-ok's (Kim Seon-yeong-III) extraction of Joon-goo's (Lee Moon-sik) past as an activist from him is masterfully executed. On the other hand, Dong-wook (Eom Tae-woong) seems like less of a possibility now. If his confession is truthful, the man acts as a mad scientist. His actions have been nothing but cruel and he lacks the moral limits the kidnapper has.
Not that those limits are clear. The kidnapper might be seeking justice, but they have no problem using people's pain to turn them into pawns. Ji-eun's discussion with Hye-in is a fine scene and it reveals a lot about both women and humans in general. We are the strongest when driven by something precious to us, be it toward good deeds or bad. Ji-eun's low blow to Hye-in just shows how viciously we protect what drives us and this is valuable for understanding crime.
Hye-in trying to get through to Ji-eunHye-in and Seung-in hiding Ji-eun
As great as the exploration of these topics is, I wonder if the drama sometimes falls into a meta trap of not practicing what it preaches. The reality show "Wanted" is being criticized for glorifying crime and the drama writer clearly wants us to agree, but then Soo-hyeon (Lee Jae-kyoon), Ji-eun and by extension the kidnapper's presentation teeters between guilty and noble. Perhaps this is an intentional contradiction meant to enhance the complexity of guilt.
Regardless of her crimes, Ji-eun is now an important catatyst and therefore the current target for those behind the deaths of Na Jae-hyeon and Ham Tae-yeong. I assume Soo-hyeon's message to Bo-yeon (Hyosung) is a secret mission and the reason why Seung-in (Ji Hyeon-woo) and Hye-in orchestrate Ji-eun's escape. I expect conflict as the investigative groups drift further apart. More fun for us, I suppose.
"Wanted" is directed by Park Yong-soon, written by Han Ji-wan-I and features Kim Ah-joong, Ji Hyeon-woo, Eom Tae-woong and Park Hae-joon.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"Wanted" Episode 9 recap

Crisis hits the "Wanted" production when Ha Dong-min's lawyer and a member of their own staff are kidnapped by copycat criminals from the program's fan club. Episode nine takes a step back from Hyeon-woo's case to look at the consequences of such a reality show, but the kidnapper's behavior during this situation acts as an additional clue in the investigation for their identity. The time to find out Ha Dong-min and Kim Woo-jin's connection to all of this approaches.
Bo-yeon's (Hyosung) kidnapping and the subsequent halting of all show-related activities serve as a good marker of the drama's midpoint. Aside from its part in the main plot, which I will get to in a bit, this crisis allows the writer to briefly tackle the reality show's societal influence. I find the episode's use of its three fan club criminals very insightful, because it subverts the uneducated stereotype of a troubled youth automatically being a deranged criminal in the making.
Seong-hyeok and Seung-inWoo-sin and the kids
A lot of the darkness in this world hides in ordinary, well-adjusted adults and attempting to deny this frightful reality by othering criminals is only detrimental to our society. Despite the smart handling of this particular part, the influence of media is a topic too complicated for a quick peek and therefore the episode's approach feels lacking. The same applies to the sensationalistic presentation of children reenacting the show. The matter is oversimplified and there is no mention of parenting or society's role.
Coming back to the main story, Bo-yeon's case throws Hyeon-woo's (Park Min-soo) true kidnapper off and this reveals that they are not willing to sacrifice an innocent person and possible acquaintance. Detective Park Yeong-sik (Ji Hyeon-joon) suspects Dong-wook (Eom Tae-woong) and given we still do not know anything about his past with Hye-in (Kim Ah-joong), he is a possibility. Yeong-gwan's (Sin Jae-ha) menacing reaction to the copycat criminals is also suspicious to me, because a member of the police is also a possibility.
Dong-wook, Woo-sin, Yeong-sik and Dong-joonThe mystery lawyer
I previously expressed curiosity about one of the seemingly unrelated mission subjects. I assumed Ha Dong-min's (Son Jong-hak) part ended when he failed to expose Hye-in's secret, but his newly revealed lawyer friend and possibly he himself are directly connected to the murders. Actor Song Yeong-gyoo enters the series as a new character, but his characteristic voice betrays him as the one Jo Nam-cheol (Park Sang-wuk) spoke to on the phone before being arrested.
Now that this connection is made, I look forward to the revelation of Kim Woo-jin's (Jeong Wook-I) role in this, because he is clearly not a random abusive husband. I hope we get to know Dong-wook more now, but I wonder about the fate of the reality show. If I can be greedy, I also hope Hye-in will evolve as her morality keeps being challenged.
"Wanted" is directed by Park Yong-soon, written by Han Ji-wan-I and features Kim Ah-joong, Ji Hyeon-woo, Eom Tae-woong and Park Hae-joon.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"W" Episode 2 recap

It would appear that on top of her other characteristics Yeon-joo is also a drama critic. Go figure. Well, in all fairness practically every real-life character in "W" has some sort of strong opinion about how fictional stories should proceed. And Seong-moo, in typical famous author fashion, arrogantly dismisses any notion that there is a "correct" way to write a story. He wants to kill Cheol and by golly, he's going to succeed no matter how obviously contrived the process is.
Seong-moo is the big mystery in "W". Note how he is consistently very curiously blasé as to the revelation that his webtoon has somehow been drawing itself, and is more irritated at Yeon-joo's interfering with his story than he is surprised that she has this apparently supernatural power at all. Seong-moo's curmudgeonly attitude in general is weirdly charming. It's rare to see fictional authors be presented as such jerks, mostly because the real-life authors who write these stories try to make people who share their profession seem sympathetic.
As for Yeon-joo, she remains completely bewildered. I like how Yeon-joo keeps trying to think in story logic in Cheol's world even though these are all real people who she can see and feel. Yeon-joo is having quite a bit of difficulty explaining who she is or why she knows the things that she does. It was a fairly nice touch how we see that Cheol's world is explicitly based off of the real one. Or at least, the parts of it Seong-moo sees on a regular basis.
...Or does he? Writer Song Jae-jeong makes a point of giving us more questions than answers, and a big part of the drama's "whaaat?" factor is that the few answers we get just lead to increasingly more elaborate questions. Given Seong-moo's godlike power over the webtoon, it does not seem as if Cheol can put up any sort of credible fight against him. Yet come the cliffhanger, that is exactly what Cheol has done, through a closing line that's even more ominous than it looks.
Consider, for example, the multiple ways Cheol's thought process can be interpreted. Is he referring to Yeon-joo? Seong-moo? The fictional killer? The fictional audience? The real-life audience? The real-life production team? Cheol is obviously suspicious about his situation in life in ways that go beyond the knowledge we would expect him to have as the protagonist of a mere genre thriller. How much he truly suspects is, as of yet, unknown.
Review by William Schwartz
"W" is directed by Jeong Dae-yoon, written by Song Jae-jeong and features Lee Jong-suk, Han Hyo-joo, Eugene Jung, Lee Tae-hwan, Park Won-sang, and more.
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"Uncontrollably Fond" Episode 6 recap

Episode 6 was No  Eul's episode. It was her turn to discover and reflect instead of recklessly living. Her character up until this point has charged forward, doing anything and everything to earn the money to keep her and her brother afloat. Although she professes love for Ji-tae, it is Joon-yeong who gives her pause and challenges her current lifestyle.

As Joon-yeong and No  Eul adventure to the ocean to escape the paparazzi, the not-quite-a-couple couple start to learn about each other in the most interesting episode thus far. No  Eul is drunkenly hung up over Ji-tae, who she knows as Hyun-soo, and Joon-yeong cares for her as she spouts on about her love for another man. He is not pleasant in his help for her, but he is tender in a way that gives her pause when she actually remembers his kindness towards her. Her memory comes to her in spurts throughout the episode and she discovers what kind of man as do we. Joon-yeong is a layered character brought on by multiple sources of pain and the longevity of that pain. For some reason, his character stands strongly on his own, while No  Eul's is best when she's paired with another like Joon-yeong or her (more) mature brother No Jik. Jik cares for her in a parental fashion, defending her from Ha-ru's cruel fangirl tendencies. Their interaction sets the stage for another melodramatic romance. They are kind of cute. Maybe it will work.
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The real intensity was delivered by Im Joo-hwan as Ji-tae anguishes over his feelings for No  Eul and his decision not to accept hers because of his father. Ji-tae is split between his love and hate for his father and those warring emotions tend to become bottled up and explode. They did last episode. These explosions may prove interesting throughout the course of the drama. His mother may do the same. She is coming out of the woodwork as she shows her knowledge of Joon-yeong and his mother. Her interest in the situation is bound to spike in the future. Assemblyman Choi has proven himself unable to forget Joon-yeong's mother, which may lead to a clash of the wife and the mistress. "Uncontrollably Fond" has almost every element of melodrama now: illegitimate children, cancer, politicians, money used to cover dirty deeds, first loves, loan sharks, and orphaned main leads.

Next week's episodes may have No  Eul reaching out to Joon-yeong rather than the other way around. Her entire episode of contemplation and realization points towards it. It'l be fun to see the reversed goose chase.
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Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"Uncontrollably Fond" is directed by Park Hyeon-seok, written by Lee Kyeong-hee, and features Kim Woo-bin, Suzy, Im Joo-hwan, and Lim Joo-eun.
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

"W" rated 8.6%

The new MBC drama "W" had a good start.
According to Nielsen Korea, "W" rated 8.6%. This is 2.2% higher than the final episode of "Lucky Romance".
"W" is a romantic suspense drama about a resident doctor named Oh Yeon-joo (Han Hyo-joo) getting sucked into the web-toon world and meeting Kang Cheol (Lee Jong-suk).
The elements of the drama being fantastical and realistic might have caused good results.
Meanwhile, KBS 2TV "Uncontrollably Fond" and SBS "Wanted" rated 12.9% and 5.4% respectively .
Source : www.tvreport.co.kr/?c...
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"W" Episode 1 recap

Cheol (played by Lee Jong-suk) is an Olympic level marksman who is framed for a horrible crime, wallowing away in despair before finally becoming determined to locate the true perpetrator. Cheol is also a fictional character in a webtoon by Seong-moo (played by Kim Ee-seong), who is also the father of Yeon-joo (played by Han Hyo-joo), a clumsy doctor who juggles medical responsibilities with an active social position as the daughter of a famous webtoon artist. Matters take a turn for the weird when Yeon-joo is left alone with a manuscript that appears to clumsily kill Cheol off.
On one end "W" is a deadly straight-faced high-concept wrongly accused man storyline. There's no real sense of self-parody in the scenes that take place in Cheol's world. It's exactly the same kind of plot that could feature in either a daytime revenge melodrama or a high-concept adult comic book. Incidentally, until watching "W" I had not noticed how much those two genres shared in common, considering how they're aimed at two completely different audiences.
That kind of irony is the main humor that pervades "W". Yeon-joo is completely bewildered by the turn of events and just sort of stands nearby with a dumb incredulous look on her face. When Yeon-joo is forced to solve a medical emergency using a trope that is common in fiction yet obviously ridiculous to a real-life doctor, she resists until finally only reluctantly following the genre convention.
Cheol's reaction to having a person from the "Real" world enter his own proves to be equally telling- it's almost religious in tone, and for good reason. From Cheol's perspective, Seong-moo is God. From our perspective Seong-moo is also the person responsible for Cheol's horrible position in life because he's the one who murdered Cheol's family...by writing a story about it. And if the look on Seong-moo's face when drawing the decisive panel is any indication, Seong-moo is about out of patience with Cheol too.
If nothing else, the plot is certainly madcap and innovative. As of yet I can't tell whether the story in "W" is genius or just creativity disguised as genius. But if nothing else, it definitely looks cool. Check out the nighttime cinematography, the pitter-patter of hard rain, or the seamless transitions between live action scene and webtoon comic panels. Director Jeong Dae-yoon has certainly made the first episode look stylish enough-let's see if he can keep it up.
Review by William Schwartz
"W" is directed by Jeong Dae-yoon, written by Song Jae-jeong and features Lee Jong-suk, Han Hyo-joo, Eugene Jung, Lee Tae-hwan, Park Won-sang, and more.
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"Uncontrollably Fond" Episode 5 recap

The somber note that sounded throughout last week's episodes of "Uncontrollably Fond" was little seen in episode 5. Only with Ji-tae, secret chaebol and Daddy Longlegs extraordinaire, did the angst verge momentarily above the surface. What rose to the surface we the re-kindled interest between Joon-yeong and No Eul and the heavy baggage of dating in the limelight.

What struck me most about the episode was how normal Joon-yeong appeared and how hard he worked to maintain that guise. He goes through his day as though illness did not lurk menacingly waiting to pitch him into throes of painful agony and drag him closer to death. No one yet knows of his disease and treats him as they normally would, which is part of the reason he keeps it secret. That secret keeping is costing him a relationship with his very stubborn and nasty mother. She has turned on him because his guilt cause him to turn his back on becoming a prosecutor. I doubt she'd behave in the same way if she knew he walked the path to death's door. The relationship between this mother and son pair is wearying. Her stubbornness is uncalled for.
Ji-tae's mother was seemingly mild and unaware. This episode her temper gives away the fact that she knows more than she lets on. But what? I suppose we'll see. The shattered glassware that she flung from the coffee table has to mean something. Family is complicated as it should be in a melodrama of the Korean variety. No Eul and her brother No Jik are close and mutually worry for each Other. In a way No Jik is more mature than his sister, warning her against falling for Joon-yeong when spending time with the popular, handsome, rich star. We see them fuss, and also act adorably towards each other, which is what I was waiting for. Both of those behaviors indicate a strong family unit. In contrast, Ji-tae and his obsessive sister Ha-ru love each other, but aren't quite as friendly or open.

A few bones thrown to the viewers were more shirtless Kim Woo-bin and an extended performance of his singing. His baritone voice is quite nice and full. Along with those we get a lot of push and pull between the main couple, mild misunderstandings between a trio of main leads, and a future that promises much more than mild misunderstanding.
Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"Uncontrollably Fond" is directed by Park Hyeon-seok, written by Lee Kyeong-hee, and features Kim Woo-bin, Suzy, Im Joo-hwan, and Lim Joo-eun.

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"Bring It On, Ghost" Episode 4 recap

So apparently...ghosts can wear dresses? I don't have any big logical problems with this, it's just that of all the questions "Bring It On, Ghost" could be answering right now "can ghosts wear dresses" really strikes me as the most irrelevant one. Much like the previous episode, this episode is simply another restatement of the same plot points that dominated the first two. Bong-pal and Hyeon-ji have anatagonistic fun, Myeong-cheol is not a very good monk, Cheon-sang and In-rang are a couple of dopes, and we still have no idea what's going on with Hye-seong.
Really. Writer Lee Dae-il-I is still going on about that stupid cat issue, which is another very uninteresting story point to focus on in a drama that's supposed to be about fighting ghosts. I can't figure out what's going on with the pacing. It feels like each new episode of "Bring It On, Ghost" is simply an alternate version of the first one because the production team didn't want to completely throw out their old drafts.
Let's take Cheon-sang and In-rang. To date they're the only ones who have been able to, however ineffectually, locate ghosts. Bong-pal and Hyeon-ji are wrapped up in their own little worlds and only ever barely glaze over the backstories of the enemy ghosts before getting into fights. This is workable when the antagonistic ghosts are one-off jokes like the peeping tom schoolgirl crossdresser, or simple archetypes like the domestic abuser. But this episode and the last have tried to do actual pathos with its ghosts, to limited effect.
"Cheo Yong: The Paranormal Detective" managed to pull this off much more effectively, because in that drama the lead character and his allies were making a proactive effort to locate ghosts, so the story unfolded much more organically. "Bring It On, Ghost" is using the basic format of dealing with one-off ghosts without really understanding how that brand of storytelling is supposed to work. The result is colorful characters, yet not much else.
"Bring It On, Ghost" is starting to wear out my patience. I'm beginning to question whether this drama was ever actually properly storyboarded, or whether the pacing really is just that bad. Without proper variation and movement in context the greatest jokes in the world get stale awfully quickly, and "Bring It On, Ghost" had pretty low brow humor to begin with. I'd just really like to see more dedication to holistic storytelling and less to individual gags.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bring It On, Ghost" is directed by Park Joon-hwa, written by Lee Dae-il-I and features Taecyeon, Kim So-hyeon-I, Kwon Yul, Kim Sang-ho, Kang Ki-yeong and Lee David.
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"Doctors" Episode 10 recap

Flashbacks sprinkled throughout this episode remind us of the difficult trials and tribulations Hye-jeong and Ji-hong wernt through back in the day that inspired them to get on to the medical career path. I find the inclusion of these flashbacks puzzling, since all they do is remind me that at one time "Doctors" was about people exceeding their own expectations to do good in the world rather than act all surly. And now the story is just a love triangle.
Not even a compelling love triangle at that. Everyone down to the unnamed nurses knows full well that Yoon-do has absolutely zero chance with Hye-jeong, and that it's only his general cuteness that prevents his pursuant behavior from being explictly creepy. I will admit, though I admire that he had the guts to actually get an explicit rejection. There were only blatant hints, after all, that of course Hye-jeong's heart lies with Ji-hong.
It doesn't really, mostly because Hye-jeong is cynical for some reason. That's another real irksome point for me. It's been over ten years and yes, it is horrible what happened to Hye-jeong's grandmother, but has she really just been reliving that one painful moment this entire time? Hye-jeong only recently started to work at this hospital- was life at her previous hospital miserable enough that all Hye-jeong was focused on was getting the qualification to come to this one and investigate what happened to her grandmother?
These are the flashbacks and character backstories I really want to see. To date "Doctors" has been almost fully satisfied with simply giving us bare bones archetypes and expecting us to root for the characters solely for the sake of self-identification. Once again I can see the appeal of this. Ji-hong and Yoon-do are both such nice, basically encouraging men that it's hard to really dislike either one of them all that much.
Be that as it may, there still isn't anything about them that's all that interesting, and the same can be said for the rest of "Doctors". The political disputes and the rather mild medical emergencies the drama keeps coming up with remain extremely dull. There's no sense of dramatic stakes, and no crisis. Admittedly, in a purely romantic television show, it's not necessarily all that bad for the story to be comforting rather than exciting and dynamic. But as the flashbacks keep reminding me, at one point "Doctors" was able to juggle all these balls quite skillfully, so I have no idea why right now it's only putting any effort into keeping the romance moving.
Review by William Schwartz
"Doctors" is directed by Oh Choong-hwan, written by Ha Myeong-hee and features Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Yoon Gyoon-sang, Lee Seong-kyeong, Kim Yeong-ae and Jeong Hae-gyoon.
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"Doctors" Episode 9 recap

Hye-jeong and Ji-hong are still cute. That's about all the depth I can get out of their relationship, unfortunately. The closest we get to dynamic story action is that Hye-jeong pulls away for the sake of investigating her grandmother's death while Ji-hong offers unconditional support. And of course they still have time to go on dates anyway. The lack of much real conflict in that regard tends to be a bit stifling. It would be nice if Hye-jeong faced some serious resistance every once in awhile.
...Unless we count Seo-woo, which I'm not sure is reasonable considering that Seo-woo seems to be disliked more for personal reasons than professional ones. This is why I find myself sympathizing with Seo-woo even though objectively speaking she is in fact kind of a jerk. Seo-woo's flaw is that she doesn't put much effort into getting along well with other people. The problem is, Hye-jeong has the exact same flaw, yet people love her anyway for reasons that are not convincingly explained.
This is especially jarring because these expressions of affection frequently cross the line from being cute to unethical. Like that whole scene with the car. Never mind ethics- that kind of thing is probably explicitly illegal, and yet the whole incident is passed off like a big joke. Contrast that with the way Yoon-do rips into Seo-woo in the park. If the production team wants me to hate Seo-woo, they really need to spend more time having her do bad things and less time bringing the poor woman to the verge of tears.
Elsewhere the political storyline mostly fails to elicit any material that can be described as even remotely interesting. It may not be popular to say this, but getting the money necessary to do important stuff like build hospitals is legitimately pretty hard. Seo-woo's family, much like Seo-woo herself, are villainous less because they do bad things and more because they happen to have less than perfect personalities.
For me, that's really not enough to make them into monsters. The extent to which a medical drama even needs villains in the first place is a tad suspect, since one would think that keeping sick patients alive is a big enough challenge in itself that political conflicts aren't all that necessary. Alas, even the medical aspects this time around are fairly dull, with nothing anywhere near as interesting as the wide-awake surgery to give a neat visual.
Review by William Schwartz
"Doctors" is directed by Oh Choong-hwan, written by Ha Myeong-hee and features Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Yoon Gyoon-sang, Lee Seong-kyeong, Kim Yeong-ae and Jeong Hae-gyoon.
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"Beautiful Gong Shim" Episode 20 (final) recap

The last episode of "Beautiful Gong Shim" was everything I had expected it to be and a little less. Each story was addressed, however awkwardly and the guy got his girl. The beauty of Dan-tae's weird character carried through to the end even if other elements did not.

Gong Mi's past is revealed, but not in the way one would expect. She takes it upon herself to confess with no catalyst or foreshadowing in previous episodes that this would come about. In fact, her confession is so random that I'm disappointed. I wanted to watch her learn and change; and I didn't want her to get Joon-soo. Their couple status is undecided, but it was obvious that the show was going to try and throw them together. I also wanted to watch her truly apologize to her sister and she never did. This random personality change also affected Joon-soo's uncle who went crazy in his denial of his involvement in the kidnapping and the subsequent crimes he committed to cover it up. Insanity used in this manner is a copout for lack of character development.
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Gong Shim finally doffs her wig and adopts a classier sense of dress while Dan-tae (now Joon-pyo) remains his slovenly self after the year long time jump. The infuriating time jump. Dan-tae had absolutely no reason for contacting her and all of his excuses fell short. Why? Because the writers should not have put on in there in the first place. The only saving grace of the time jump was that Gong Shim was generally angry of Dan-tae's pitiful excuses and refused to forgive him. Had she continued that way, the writer's could've made a statement about the poor usage of time jumps in dramas. Instead, they had Gong Shim easily cave. The romance at the end was a bit flavorless because of it. Especially since Dan-tae has already disappeared once with no contact. It's his modus operandi and not a pleasant trait in a significant other or husband.

As for the drama overall, I do love that Gong Shim finds her calling and sticks by it and that her fervent support of herself draws in the support of her parents and those around her (save for her sister.) In the same way, Joon-soo learned to define himself as an individual rather than as part of his family unit. Grandma apologizes for the way she treated Joon-soo for the better part of his life, but the apology seems a bit lacking. She has the grandson she cares about back. Had she truly wanted to be earnest, she would've made the apology without Joon-pyo ever having been found. It was a resolution for resolution's sake.
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The mystery was the downfall of the drama. Had it just focused on relationships and buffed out characters like Gong Mi and Joon-soo's uncle, the show would've been stronger. Watching a downtrodden woman build confidence in herself and find her way is always a winning story. It was mirrored with Joon-soo's journey in his oppressive household, and Dan-tae's search of his past. It was set up well, but poorly executed. The parents as oppressive figures dissipated with little instigation. But the romance is where "Beautiful Gong Shim" was strong. Minah and Namgoong Min are such a delightful pair and just as delightful individually. Namgoong stepped away from his polished roles to take on slovenly Dan-tae and Minah stepped away from her idol image with such panache and humor that I can't wait to see her in something else.

"Beautiful Gong Shim" is a breezy watch, but not made of deep stuffs. It's highly inconsistent, but equally entertaining.
Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is directed by Baek Soo-chan, written by Lee Hee-myeong, and features Namgoong Min, Minah, Oh Joo-wan, Seo Hyo-rim, Oh Hyun-kyeong, and Woo Hyeon.

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"Bring It On, Ghost" Episode 3 recap

The format for this episode is mostly the exact same as the first two. Strictly speaking this is not a bad thing, since the first two episodes were quite engaging. But after a certain point rehashing the same jokes gets to be tiring however energetic and fun the relevant performances may be. Myeong-cheol is not a terribly competent priest, and also he tends to make gross sounds. Is the main purpose of his character really just going to be some variation on these jokes every single time?
Kyeong-ja fares somewhat better in that regard, because her main personality trait (man-chasing) at least seems likely to eventually get us closer to the main plot. Hye-seong (played by Kwon Yul) is the clear implied villain of "Bring It On, Ghost", but so far we still know almost nothing about him except that he has mysterious scars and is more upset about being attacked by a cat than he lets on. I mean, shoot, the same thing could be said about me, and I like cats.
The main ghost that needs to be put down this episode, while initially presented in a striking, beautifully shot setpiece, is ultimately little more than fodder for Bong-pal and Hyeon-ji to put down. They only hit upon her weakness by complete accident. But more problematic than that is how the ghost's killing spree begs the question of why more people in this universe do not believe in ghosts, since there's no other explanation for the murders.
The good parts of "Bring It On, Ghost" are the same good parts that were in the first two episodes. There's the usual great playful chemistry between Taecyeon and Kim So-hyeon-I- fights that Hyeon-ji inevitably wins on account of the fact that Bong-pal looks like a crazy person any time they have a confrontation in public. Now that Bong-pal and Hyeon-ji are finally explicitly working together, that's one more important part of the introduction out of the way.
All the same, can we please get done with the introductions very soon? I thought during the first two episodes that I could endure "Bring It On, Ghost"s combination cool spectral combat, childish flirting, and low brow humor indefinitely, but writer Lee Dae-il-I seems to be trying to test and see if that's actually true. I mean come on, really. There's so much interesting stuff in this world that I'd really like to know about sooner rather than later.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bring It On, Ghost" is directed by Park Joon-hwa, written by Lee Dae-il-I and features Taecyeon, Kim So-hyeon-I, Kwon Yul, Kim Sang-ho, Kang Ki-yeong and Lee David.
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Mirror of the Witch" Episode 20 Final recap

With Hong-joo mostly out of the way, "Mirror of the Witch" is able to proceed without a villain. Which is to say, instead of having to fight an intractable conspiracy, Jun and Yeon-hee simply solve problems and make wishes come true. This is immensely more satisfying than the skulduggery that has categorized so much of the drama's plot until this point. In context it's not clear whether any of the potions are actually magical at all- it's more about the behavior they provoke.
Which naturally leads to the last candle and...you know, if Hong-joo had just led with that restriction instead of coming up with complicated plans to do things her way by force, she probably would have been a lot more successful. Given the generally repentant nature of her character here, actually, I was (and still am) wondering whether Hong-joo herself lit the candle. Sure she's been a bit of a jerk, but her final moments are practically poetic, albeit undeserved. Hong-joo could have benefitted a lot from a more ambiguous portrayal.
Jun and Yeon-hee fortunately do not need that much. Their happiness this episode is well-deserved, sweet, and generally heartfelt. This is the romantic chemistry that can be used to convincingly set off an entire drama series, and I'm sad less by the plot arc of the final episode as I am by the fact that "Mirror of the Witch" did not make good use of its runtime to delve into the Jun/Yeon-hee relationship. We only got brief glimpses like this in between unnecessarily complicated plot twists.
And the final one, after the second time skip, is the most baffling of all. When I'm left asking questions like "so are they dead or did they solve that problem with magic or is a metaphor what's going on exactly" that's a pretty good sign that a drama is prioritizing warm fuzzy feelings over putting effort into an ending that actually makes sense. How could a drama so obsessed with explaining all its most minor plot points fail at something so basic?
Well, "Mirror of the Witch" has mostly just been a long run of failure punctuated by brief strong performances before they get smothered by the next turnabout. So I guess in the end it's not that big a surprise for the drama to end on a similar note, offering little more than a sad reminder of what might have been if only the story could have been more effectively condensed. Ah well. It could have been worse.
Review by William Schwartz

"Mirror of the Witch" is directed by Jo Hyeon-tak, written by Yang Hyeok-moon and features Yoon Si-yoon, Kim Sae-ron, Lee Seong-jae, Yeom Jeong-ah, Kwak Si-yang and Jang Hee-jin.
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